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Students at West Hartford’s Intensive Education Academy Give Thanks

Two IEA students prepare for the school-wide Thanksgiving celebration. Submitted photo

West Hartford’s Intensive Education Academy held a school-wide Thanksgiving celebration on Nov. 21.

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On Tuesday, students at the Intensive Education Academy (IEA) held their second annual school-wide Thanksgiving to celebrate the upcoming holiday. The event, which started seven years ago in a single classroom, has grown each year and now includes the entire school.

While each student at the school helped prepare for the event, taking part in creating centerpieces, printing name tags, or setting up the auditorium, Elizabeth Perry’s transition class did the bulk of the work.

IEA’s transition program focuses on the development of life skills and vocational skills as well as academics. The transition class incorporated the meal preparations into their regular class work. Students planned menus, research recipes, created shopping lists and then did the actual shopping. While at the stores, students learned more about potential careers, including cashiers, stock clerks and even catering. During the food preparation, students learned about on food safety, measurement, reading recipes and more.

“While the actual meal is only a couple of hours, the preparations take over six weeks,” said Perry, the teacher who first implemented and continues to coordinate the event. “It really is an amazing activity and a perfect example of project-based learning, an important teaching strategy here at IEA. It’s a practical application of academics like math, reading and history, while giving students the opportunity to develop their executive functioning and social skills as well.”

In addition to enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all of the fixings, students and staff shared what they were most thankful for this year. High school student Matthew may have said it best when he shared, “I am thankful for this wonderful school.”

Since 1971, the Intensive Education Academy (IEA), a nonprofit, State of Connecticut-approved special education facility, has helped students reach their full potential, through a nurturing and individualized learning environment. IEA is a non-denominational ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. IEA currently serves students ages 5-21 from 29 school districts in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. For more information, visit ie-academy.org, or contact the school at 860-236-2049.

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